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George Sutherland Caird (1829–1901)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published:

George Sutherland Caird (1829-1901), merchant, was born on 5 October 1829 at Greenock, Scotland, the fourth son of John Caird (d.1838), partner and manager of the engineering firm of Caird & Co., and his wife Janet, daughter of Robert Young of Paisley. He was educated at Greenock Grammar School and the University of Edinburgh.

On his arrival in Australia in 1856 he founded the mercantile firm of Caird, Paterson & Co. It became Caird, Maxwell & Co., of Bridge Street, Sydney, when on 25 February 1888 he entered into a partnership with Alexander Hamilton Keith Maxwell and his own son, Colin Young. Caird was also a director of the Sydney Marine Assurance Co., the Mercantile Bank of Sydney, the Perpetual Trustee Co., the New South Wales Shale and Oil Co., and a director and chairman of the Scottish Widows' Life Assurance Co. In later years he devoted himself to the mining interest and associated with John Moffat of Irvinebank, Queensland, and J. S. Reid of Tenterfield in helping to open up and develop the Chillagoe country in north Queensland. He was an original member and later a trustee of the Union Club and a member and office-bearer of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, but apart from these and his business interests he was not prominent in public life; he was not active in politics and declined a seat in the Legislative Council.

Caird was one of a gifted family; his eldest brother, John (1820-1898), was principal of the University of Glasgow in 1873-98, and his youngest brother, Edward (1835-1908), achieved distinction as a philosopher and was master of Balliol from 1893 to 1907. Caird himself was interested and active in fostering higher learning; in 1886 he donated £1000 to the University of Sydney for a scholarship in chemistry, and further benefactions were made in 1918 by his younger daughter and under her will in 1923. In 1880-84 he was a member of the Royal Society of New South Wales.

At St Michael's Church, Surry Hills, on 24 July 1860 he married Elizabeth Richardson, youngest daughter of Thomas Raine; they had two sons and two daughters. The eldest son Colin Young (1865-1928) succeeded him in the firm, receiving five of his father's six-twelfths shares (the other share going to Maxwell), and became a prominent Sydney businessman; the younger, John Glover, died aged 21 in April 1893. The elder daughter, Caroline Maxwell, married Murray Aird (1859-1929), the fourth son of Alexander Campbell, and had two sons; the younger daughter Elizabeth Richardson (1873-1922) did not marry. George S. Caird died at his residence, Lillingstone, Ocean Street, Woollahra, on 9 October 1901; together with his wife, who predeceased him on 6 May 1875 aged 52, and three of their children he was buried in the Church of England cemetery, Rookwood. The Perpetual Trustee Co. Ltd was appointed executor of his will and his estate was valued at about £60,000.

Select Bibliography

  • University of Sydney, Report,1886, Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, New South Wales), 1887 (2nd S), 3, 703
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 27 July 1860, 11 Oct 1901, 21 May 1928.

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Caird, George Sutherland (1829–1901)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 26 February 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (Melbourne University Press), 1969

View the front pages for Volume 3

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


5 October, 1829
Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland


9 October, 1901 (aged 72)
Woollahra, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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